So you want to drink your coffee black.
Maybe you want to drink black coffee because it cuts calories; or because your tastes are changing; or because you work the night shift and only have access to drip. Maybe you want to save money by making coffee at home instead of buying lattes, or because you’re curious, or because you want to seem more sophisticated when your friends offer you coffee after dinner parties. Whatever your motive may be, be forewarned: beginning to drink your coffee black may just inspire a passion for coffee you never knew you had. Before you make the switch, here are a few things to know.
Most coffee at grocery stores and even at coffee shops is stale—like three to six months stale. Stale coffee usually has a bitter edge and muted flavor, which is why 80 percent of coffee drinkers choose to add milk and sugar to their drink. So if you only change one thing about your coffee routine, buy fresh coffee! Coffee is a perishable good: it may not “go bad” in the traditional sense, but it will lose its flavor and, if it sits long enough, the oils on the beans will begin to taste like spoiled food. Buy fresh, and keep in a cool, dry, airtight container out of the sun.
Once the beans are ground, they lose their flavor much faster. Do yourself a solid by grinding just before every brew.
Many light roasts don’t have those strong, bitter flavors for which “traditional” coffee is known. Washed Yirgacheffes taste like black tea. Natural Ethiopians and Kenyas have tart, syrupy fruit flavors. Central American varieties like Costa Rican and Guatemalan coffes often have soft, mellow fruit and floral notes. A Panama Geisha is the ultimate splurge of specialty coffee, and no one would ever mistake it for a dark, diner brew. Check out our handpicked light roast coffees here.
Lighter roasts that have been brewed in the Japanese cold brew style taste light and crisp, very much like iced tea.
Coffee is a comfort food, and you don’t want to feel like you’re suffering through something for the sake of health or sophistication. Add just a little less sugar or cream each day so you can ease into those stronger coffee flavors.
There are a lot of dubious myths around coffee acids and stomach aches or reflux, but in the end, you have to listen to your body. And if you’re concerned about a cup of black coffee upsetting your stomach, there are ameliorating factors: pick a roast with less acid (often lower-grown coffees, like Brazils and Sumatras, as well as medium-dark roasts), use a brew method that filters the grounds from your cup (French press is a no-no), and pair your coffee with food.